01 SES 17 A, Teacher Education and Transdisciplinary Teacher Professional Competencies
Within the project TEQ21 one of the transdisciplinary competences studied is Teacher’s diversity competence (tDiv). Until recently, in Norway, the use of the term diversity appears to cover issues related to multiculturalism and integration (see Lund, 2018; Westrheim & Hagatun, 2015; Directorate of Integration and Diversity (IMDi), 2020). Lately, however, attention has been given to a more comprehensive understanding of the term, including dimensions as socio-economic background, gender, functionality, etc. (Røthing & Bjørnestad, 2015). In order to grasp a better understanding of diversity and diversity competence we have carried out a study investigating how different stakeholders perceive the concept of diversity, characterize the competence needed in order to master diverse classrooms, and believe that this competence can be acquired. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 3 groups of pre-service teachers (N=12), 3 certified teachers teaching year 8-10, and 4 university staff teachers. Our findings reflect that the term diversity is perceived in two different ways; either as a simple reminder of the inevitable heterogeneousness of all groups, or as denoting specific characteristics deviating from the majority. Such characteristics include language, knowledge, religion, functionality, etc. Regarding what competence teachers need in order to master diverse classrooms, the findings suggest that this competence is in some informants’ view connected to positive attitudes towards diversity, while others point at specific skills and knowledge connected to the mentioned differences. When our informants are asked how this competence can be acquired, they claim that handling diverse classrooms is best learned through practical training. These findings make us question whether the term diversity is helpful in teacher education. If diversity is just a substitute term for plurality, self-evidently including all and everything, do we need it? On the other hand, if it is perceived as denoting all possible different characteristics, teacher education is facing an impossible challenge. The easy way out of this dilemma is focusing on attitudes and values of inclusion, trusting that the students will acquire the needed skills and knowledge during their practical training. We agree with the informants that diversity competence can be acquired in practical training. However, we claim that teacher education has a responsibility to go beyond this by providing students with historical and cultural perspectives that can enhance critical reflection upon contemporary dilemmas. We argue that teacher education institutions need to develop a common understanding of diversity and diversity competence in order to make these terms useful.
Directorate of Integration and Diversity (IMDi) (2020, 15.12.). Dette gjør IMDi. Integrerings- og mangfoldsdirektoratet. https://www.imdi.no/om-imdi/dette-gjor-imdi/ Lund, A. B. (2018). En studie av læreres forståelse av mangfoldsbegrepet. Nordisk tidsskrift for pedagogikk og kritikk, Vol. 4, 2018. http://dx.doi.org/10.23865/ntpk.v4.608 Røthing, Å., & Bjørnestad, E. (2015). Kompetanse for mangfold. Norsk pedagogisk tidsskrift, 99 (03-04). Westrheim, K., & Hagatun, K. (2015). Hva betyr «kompetanse for mangfold» i utdanningssystemet?-Et kritisk perspektiv på mangfolddiskursen. Norsk pedagogisk tidsskrift, 99(03-04).
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